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Thermoforming
Paint and Powder
Study No.2
Paint & Powder Applications

Case Study: Wisconsin Infrared Systems

Wisconsin Infrared System's infrared /convection combination heater conserved floor space and increased line speed.

Background

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Batch oven
The customer was originally using a batch oven to cure the powder on satellite amplifiers. This process had several drawbacks including slow production, poor coating consistency, and an inflexible oven design.

After time, it was necessary to upgrade the oven to achieve higher production rates. Several optional oven designs were reviewed such as a larger batch oven, a continuous gas convention oven, and a continuous medium-wave electric infrared oven.

After careful consideration, it was decided that a larger batch oven could obtain the desired production but had too many other drawbacks (as noted above). The continuous convention oven required more floor space than was available in order to obtain the desired production rate.

The medium-wave electric infrared oven achieved all of the goals for a new curing oven:

  • faster production
  • minimal floor space
  • reduced maintenance requirements
  • low energy consumption
  • reasonable capital expenditure
  • flexibility for faster production rates in the future, accomplished by sectional oven design

Advantages of using infrared for this application:

Floor Space

ImageIt was estimated that a 40'-50' long convection oven would have been required for this application. The infrared oven length is 10'. Either oven requires a 15' area for the loading and unloading of the parts.

Maintenance

A  gas convection oven requires preventive maintenance several times a year. The infrared oven has been installed for 2 1/2 years with no requirement for maintenance to date. With a typical life expectancy of 25,000 hours for Solar Products' panel heaters, the customer will be operating for a long time without experiencing any maintenance problems.

Line Speed

A gas convection oven would have required a 20-minute dwell time. The original infrared oven design was based on a line speed of 1 fpm and a dwell time of 10 minutes. In actual operation, the conveyor speed is 1.5 fmp with an oven dwell time of 5 to 7 minutes.

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Heater insertion

Energy Consumption

The input power rating is often viewed as the actual power usage for an electric infrared oven. In this case, the oven required 70 kW of electric infrared energy. But, in actual operation, its energy usage is less than 30 kW. The energy cost calculation is 30 kW x 12 cent per kW*hr =$3.60 per hour of operation. At 90 parts per hour, that equates to four cents per part. The energy consumption for paint and powder applications typically accounts for less than 1% of the product selling price. Our guess is that four cents is well below the 1% margin. The best part about Solar Products' panel heaters is that there are no external reflectors. External reflectors only get dirty over time reducing heater efficiency. Solar products' heaters maintain a consistently high radiant efficiency (80%) over time.



Specifications Part Details
Part Description Aluminum or magnesium cast parts variable wall thickness
Part type Satellite dish amplifiers for the communications industry
Coating Polyester powder
Coating application Manual electrostatic spray
Length of oven 10' long oven
Zones per oven Two zones - 9' heated length for both zones
Zone 1 One 3' long section operating at 900o F
Zone 2 3' long sections operating at 875o F
Oven type Infrared with air assist
Heater type Solar Products' F-Series panel heaters
Input power 70 kW for the heaters
Actual power usage Less than 30 kW
Conveyor type Overhead monorail
Conveyor speed 1.5 feet per minute
Weight of part 5 lbs max
Production rate 90 parts per hour
Gel and cure time (dwell time) 5 - 7 minutes

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Heating Zones

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